The wait for this model to be released has been long enough chances are you may not have known we were waiting. Around 2016/2017 The Caracal Enhanced F pistol was imported to the US from the U.A.E. but only briefly. The pistol offered interesting features that made it stand out from the crowd, but a recall killed excitment shortly before the brand all but vanished from the US. We were told production would be coming to the US.
US production is finally in full swing and the Enhanced F available. Some updates were made the pistol for the US market including:
Redesigned one piece multi function unit (MFU) which is the serialized component per the ATF.
Redesigned trigger shoe and trigger safety.
Redesigned Grip Frame (narrowed the radius of the tang, modified texture on grip panels, 1913/STANAG accessory rail).
Redesigned Barrel locking surfaces.
Redesigned Magazine and Follower.
Unfortunately I no longer have access to the original, so I can't compare to highlight specifics about the changes. If you're curious the original tabletop video is HERE.
What Is It? The Caracal Enahnced F is a duty-sized pistol with several design influences from the mind of Wilhelm Bubits. Bubits has worked with or licensed designs to Glock Walther, Steyr, Taurus, and others so you may recognize some features. The pistol is available with either the Quick Sight system as I opted for, or conventional sights. Other features aren't so readily identifiable at first glance like a low-mass slide constructed using a polymer insert behind the breech face like the Walther PPQ SC had. Reducing slide mass can reduce perceived recoil and enables the pistol to cycle more quickly with less disruption of the gun in hand. Take a closer look in the tabletop video below.
Caliber: 9 x 19mm Parabellum
Sights: 3-dot sights, Quick Sight™ System, optional night sights
Slide length: 7” (178mm)
Barrel length: 4.1” (105.4mm)
Height: 5-5/16” (135mm)
Width: 1-3/32” (28mm)
Weight: 1 lbs.12oz. (790g)
Magazine capacity: 18 rounds / 10 rounds
Grip frame: Polymer (multiple color options avialable)
Trigger system: Short Double Action
Trigger Pull (constant): 5 lbs. 5oz. (2.2kg)
Trigger travel (constant): 5/16” (8mm)
Internal Safety (drop and firing pin): 2
Cocking indicator: 1
Magazine catch: Ambidextrous
MSRP: $549 or $629 with night sights
SKU of version tested: U80021118
Prices found as of 31DEC23
Another mullet gun? Short up front and long in the back is a combination we've been seeing more and more of. With the Caraval Enhanced F this means we have the 4.1" barrel typically reserved for compact handguns and 18-round magazines and full stock usually used on full-size guns. I think the "mullet"gun design is likely to continue to grow in popularity, especially with 9mm. SAAMI specs for 9mm are a 4" barrel. This means we get the performance we think we're buying from the ammo without the added weight, draw time, and appendix-carry discomfort that comes from a longer barrel. Additionally I think people are learning that when you can get your whole hand on a gun it's a more pleasant shooting experience.
Quick Sights? This is a concept I've only experienced twice before with the BB Techs BB6 and the previous version of the Enhanced F. The concept is simple. By moving the rear sight forward alignment is quicker and training with it should support the formation of point-shoot skills at defensive distances. This does come with a downside of course as the sight radius is shorter and so while a good sight picture is easy to create, tiny movements of the hand are less visible and can result in it being more difficult to shoot a tight group than one might expect. Another way to describe it is that the sight picture can appear to be perfect, but your shots are less likely to stack.
Another unofficial benefit that I've found is that because the front and rear sights are on a more similar focal plane I found it easier to confirm my sight picture while my eye focused on the front sight. Caracal warns in the manual that this sight system is not intended for long distance/precise aiming.
There are valid arguments both for and against the Quick Sight system, but I enjoy learning new things and trying new challenges and so opted for them. As you'll see in the range video I need more time with them to get better, and plan on filming that experience in the future.
A review without a standardized protocol is little more than show and tell, so as always the range experience for this initial review followed the stnadard format:
Cold Shots: Truly my first rounds through the gun, on camera, with first thoughts shared.
Full Mag +1: Not all guns are happy at full capacity. This is a combination of pistol design, magazine design, and ammunition used. Unloading the pistol rapidly helps me get a feel for recoil and trigger control.
What's For Dinner™: A test to see what ammunition the gun will eat. Does the gun feed the round from slide lock, will it cycle and feed another round of the same type, does the slide lock to the rear on empty, and is there any notable point of impact change with different loads.
For this gun following ammunition was used:
90gr 1776 USA Lead-Free Sporting $14.79 / 50 at GrabaGun
100gr Hornady Critical Defense Lite $23.89 / 20 at Global Ordnance
100gr S&B Non-Tox
115gr Blazer Aluminum Case $17.59 / 50 at Optics Planet
124gr Federal HST JHP $27.99 / 20 at Palmetto State Armory
138gr Federal Syntech Defense $33.99 / 50 at TargetSportsUSA
140gr S&B Subsonic FMJ $22.99 / 50 at Palmetto State Armory
147gr Federal Syntech Training Match $19.76 / 50 at Global Ordnance
147gr Federal HST $38.99 / 20 at Optics Planet
147gr Speer Lawman TMJ
Sights & Trigger Control: on a 6" spinner target at a distance of 12 yards. We got this from Titan Great Outdoors and use it to gauge how learnable the trigger is and usable the sights are for forced, timed, precise shots.
Practical Accuracy: Five shots from a distance of seven yards at a one inch target. This isn't so much about printing a tight group as it is a culmination of the shooting experience and time to collect thoughts prior to making a conclusion.
After Shots: Final impressions and reflections from the range session.
You can watch the process from first shots to comparison in the Shooting Impressions video below:
The range session demonstrated to me how well the Quick Sight system did and did not work. I certanly got on target very easily, but my accuracy was not as good as I normally do. I think some learning and experimenting will be needed to master it, but I'm up to the challenge. I did the same thing with the SAS system that Sig had for a while on the P365. The entire internet said it couldn't be used for accuracy, but then Teya and I rang a C-zone target shot after shot from 25 yards. It just took some learning.
The Quick Sight system is not what the review was about however, especially since the Caracal Enhanced F is available with standard sights. The trigger was learnable, but the thing that kept smacking my brain was how comfortable the pistol is to shoot. The grip may be a touch on the slick side, but it feels great. Caracal's effort to change the radius of the tang were effective, as is the uncommonly short and light slide with an insert shedding even more weight.
The "results now" in me wishes I had opted for conventional sights so I could immediately enjoy this pistol, but the journalist and hobbyist shooter in me demanded I try and explore something different. This may be why on the BB Techs BB6 (the fully-Bubits-designed gun) the sight system could be swapped between conventiona, Quick Sight-like, or red dot.
Teya later gave the Enahnced F a try. To hear her commentary on the pistol see the video below.